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  • Vladimir-Mihai Pacuraru

    “Second, it is important to reiterate that disabling UAC introduces significant vulnerabilities to Windows. The Windows OS has made great strides recently in terms of security, and UAC is a large reason for its progress. Only users who are fully aware of the risks and willing to accept the consequences should consider disabling UAC.”
    Are you serious or you’re just kidding… me?!?

    • http://www.tekrevue.com/ TekRevue

      You’ll have to clarify, what do you think I’m kidding about? 1) Windows has made great strides in terms of security, 2) disabling UAC makes your computer more vulnerable, or 3) only users aware of the risks should do it?

      • Vladimir-Mihai Pacuraru

        All of them.

        “David Cross, a product unit manager at Microsoft, stated during the RSA
        Conference 2008 that UAC was in fact designed to “annoy users,” and
        force independent software vendors to make their programs more secure so
        that UAC prompts would not be triggered.” (go to wikipedia, UAC, the Criticism section).

        I mean, come on, I make configuration changes, and Windows prompts me with UAC, so it doesn’t trust itself?!?

        Yes, in theory you’re correct for 2) but most users have alternate protection (like Antivirus, or security solutions, which are far more useful and effective than a prompt (which properly written malware might not even trigger!)

        Ok, I might agree mostly with 3) if you detail the “risks”. As far as I’ve understood, the only known risk is that all the Metro app won’t function (it’s not like I was going to use them anyway).

        • http://www.tekrevue.com/ TekRevue

          Fair enough, but in Windows 8 most users *won’t* have third-party anti-virus protection due to the bundling of Security Essentials, and MSE doesn’t prevent administrative changes without user permissions; it’s designed to work in concert with UAC.

          Indeed, with Vista (which was the shipping OS when Mr. Cross made his statement), UAC was incredibly invasive and annoying. Microsoft toned it down quite a bit with Windows 7, and that continues with Windows 8. Windows can’t always tell if you’re the one who initiated the change that requires administrative privileges; malware can make changes in the background that are invisible to the user but indistinguishable to the OS from “real” user changes. Having a mandatory prompt is an important layer of protection. Of course, it’s not perfect, but it’s far better than nothing.

          If you don’t like it and want to turn it off, great! That’s why I wrote this article. But for average users in particular, I wouldn’t recommend it. UAC isn’t *that* annoying anymore, and the few prompts it throws up are worth it to avoid a potentially serious and otherwise undetectable virus or malware infection.

          • Vladimir-Mihai Pacuraru

            Well, guess again, from my experience all laptop vendors bundle some 3rd party protection app (I’m just configuring an HP that came with some Norton Security app, of course free for 2 months, then most likely paying).

            I’ve been using all Windows version since Vista, so 7 as well and 8, and I still find UAC very annoying: as I was saying, the most annoying is to be prompted for system changes (how hard is not to prompt in interactive mode) and then for each and every software installation. When you install tens of apps, I assure you it’s a pain in the… software. I really don’t see where the tone down is. I find it ridiculous for Microsoft to stuff it on users’ throat by disabling Metro apps if UAC is disabled. Maybe you can find the logic, because I don’t (I mean, they’re their apps, why do they need to have the user been prompted (or maybe the user isn’t even prompted but the UAC must be enabled nevertheless).

            You understood correctly, I never liked it and I still don’t like it, and while I might agree that it should not be disabled by the “average” user, I just don’t agree with the reasons quoted in the first comment…

          • http://www.tekrevue.com/ TekRevue

            As for the Metro requirement, what I’ve heard from folks at Microsoft is that it is related to Windows RT. For WinRT, the company wants to create a very closed and protected system, akin to iOS, where a user’s inaction or mistake can’t bring the system down (remember, Microsoft has been dragged through the mud for over a decade for security vulnerabilities and they don’t want their new mobile platform to get viruses or “blue screen” next to an iPad at a store).

            So, they opted for caution on WinRT, but because the Metro foundation is the same between platforms, the UAC requirement had to carry over to Windows 8 proper. Don’t know if that’s the whole story, but that’s what I’ve heard “off the record.” But most apps do get automatic escalation without user intervention, so even if you don’t see it, UAC is needed in the background.

          • Vladimir-Mihai Pacuraru

            Well, that’s another bad Microsoft decision: why on Earth did they need to push mobile type apps on PCs beats me (yes, yes, I know that there are tablet PCs, but they’re a minority). And yes I know that they’ve been bashed for poor security, so they’ve invented UAC and they stuck with it…

          • Scott Deaver

            Excuse me for interrupting a fascinating discussion, but the statement “Windows can’t always tell if you’re the one who initiated the change that requires administrative privileges” is patently false. Windows can in fact tell whether or not a device signal was emitted prior to a chain of behaviors (whether or not they occurred sequentially on the same thread stack), they simply chose not to (I’ve been a Windows-only developer for thirty years, and I’ll be happy to provide the full hysteresis if you wish). The occurrence of a hardware signal leading to a specific software event is what we are ultimately discussing here, and the difference between an actual keystroke and a call to kbhit() is glaringly obvious if you go look for it. Again, it would require Microsoft overhauling the 16-bit-derived design presumptions dating all the way back to Windows 286 (affecting about 20 million lines of code).

            So, my real challenge is to the statement “the Windows OS has made great strides recently in terms of security”. They’ve heaped on more Band-aids faster than in the past, yes, but in doing so they’ve simply created more cracks through which a hacker can insert code. The time needed for new those cracks to be discovered simply hasn’t passed yet, and the need for a hacker to do so quicky simply isn’t there anymore – because with the .Net framework Microsoft allows anyone who wishes to easily reverse engineer virtually anything out there (ask the Chinese) to get any valuable intellectual property or other information they want. Research the Maginot line – fighting the last war instead of the current one tends to not be very effective.

          • http://www.tekrevue.com/ TekRevue

            Thanks for the input and clarification, Scott. What’s your thought on the larger issue: should average users keep UAC enabled?

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  • Markus

    Sorry, guys, this does NOT disable the UAC – it just selects the lowest possible settings. I have software that requires the UAC to be disabled wile it is installed and activated (a web application server) – doing what the article says doesn’t do it. The only way is to modify the registry at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionPoliciesSystem and set EnableLUA at 0. It is normally set at 1. You then restart your system and UAC is disabled.